Sorting Out Salmon

Salmon

We know we have to eat fatty fish often but why all the fuss around these slippery swimmers?  Seafood is one of the richest sources of omega-3’s. Omega-3’s are (if you haven’t read this 100 times already!) the essential fatty acids our bodies do not make on their own so we must get from food.  Omega-3’s found in fish can help prevent heart disease, aid in weight loss and are good for your brain. Let’s get down to business and talk salmon, a favorite fatty fish of the Nutritious Life team. Did you know that pacific salmon alone has seven variations?  We want to help you understand the differences so you don’t have to stare in bewilderment the next time you’re at the fish counter at all the colors and varieties lying before you.

To Farm or not to Farm?

Farm raised salmon is more likely to contain PCB’s, which are harmful chemicals and environmental pollutant that is a byproduct of industrial production.  It is sometimes found in fish oil and fish feed.  Farm raised salmon also tends to be fattier due to farm conditions. On farms, the fish are contained in small areas, and are less active than wild salmon.  Wild salmon are leaner because of their active life in the wild.  As a result of these differences, wild salmon tend to be higher in protein and lower in fat than farm raised. Wild salmon consume a more natural diet and are less likely to contain and pass along pesticides or other harmful substances from their diet or the waste in the farming waters.

Mercury

Many people are concerned about the effects of mercury levels in salmon (and all fish), but it turns out salmon is actually on the list of lower mercury fish.  When farmed and wild salmon were tested for mercury levels, wild salmon had three times more mercury than farmed.  However, the levels detected were well below what is considered “safe.” For even more good news, experts say that the benefits of eating salmon in general far outweigh the risks, so moderate consumption is highly recommended.

There are several different species of salmon depending on whether they are Pacific or Atlantic, fresh river dwelling, as well as their size and shape.  The available species come in different sizes and colors and vary slightly in nutritional content.  Some, such as the Coho, are more depleted and overfished than others so keep this in mind when shopping for the perfect salmon.

Here is a simple nutritional breakdown of common types of salmon based on a 3 oz serving:

Atlantic Salmon

  • 142 calories
  • 19.84 g protein
  • 6.34 g total fat

Pink Salmon

  • 116 calories
  • 19g protein
  • 3.5 g total fat

Chinook Salmon

  • 179 calories
  • 19g protein
  • 10.43 g total fat

Chum Salmon

  • 120 calories
  • 20.14g protein
  • 3.77 g total fat

Sockeye Salmon

  • 168 calories
  • 21.3g protein
  • 8.56 g total fat

Check out seafoodwatch.org for a comprehensive list of your favorite fish and latest info about mercury.

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